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How to handle Pfizer’s contraceptive recall

  • February 9, 2012
  • RPh on the Go


Pharmacists are constantly being asked about the efficacy and safety of the medications they are dispensing to their customers. Because of this it is necessary for them to keep abreast of the latest developments in the field. When recalls occur it can be very scary for patients. Especially if it is a medication they have relied on for years. Recalls can occur for a variety of reasons some of which are more dangerous than others. A recall that has the potential to affect millions has recently made headlines.

On February 1st Pfizer recalled over a million oral contraceptive packets because they believe they may not be strong enough to actually prevent pregnancy. Doing this has potentially left the company open to lawsuits, but it has also terrified those women who have been using the contraceptive faithfully.

What does this mean for patients?

Patients are being encouraged to contact their health care provider immediately for alternative birth control methods. If the patient has been using the product and becomes pregnant, it will be up to the individual if they wish to pursue legal action against Pfizer. Fortunately, the company has said there are no potentially harmful side effects for the recalled medication other than the reduced potency.


What does this mean for pharmacists?

Pfizer is encouraging customers to return any unused product to their pharmacist. When patients return their medications it is important to make sure they know they should contact their doctor and that they are aware of the full details of the recall.

It is certainly the responsibility of the patient to stay informed about their healthcare and the responsibility of the company to make the products safe and effective. However, as a pharmacist you may feel obligated to help your customers by making them aware that the product they are using has been recalled. You may want to go through your database and contact customers who have recently purchased the product to let them know a recall has been issued. Another option would be to print a flyer and post it prominently in the pharmacy for customers to read when they come to fill new prescriptions. If you are attached to a larger store or facility, perhaps placing flyers or posters in more prominent areas to reach a wider population would be more effective.


How have you handled the recall and how have your clients responded? Did they seem scared, confused, or angry? Did they know about the recall or did you make them aware of the situation?

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